Break free of your workout rut with these go-to exercises by Jillian Michaels, Good Housekeeping‘s trainer on call. All you need is a mat and some light hand weights to start building up muscle and sculpting your core.
What it works: abs and lower back
1. Lie flat on back; place hands under lower back for protection.
2. Slowly raise both legs until they are perpendicular to floor. Pull belly button in toward spine and keep body flat.
3. Crunch upper body until shoulders are off of floor and hold.
4. Slowly scissor legs up and down, bringing them — one at a time — from perpendicular to nearly parallel to floor (as shown).
5. Do for 30 seconds, then rest. Repeat three times.
Make it easier: Lie flat instead of crunching up, and squeeze abs as you raise and lower legs instead.
Make it harder: Place hands behind head with fingers interlaced, keeping a fist’s distance between chin and chest.
What it works: back, shoulders, and arms
1. Start in plank, holding weights and with feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Row dumbbell to chest (as shown) and release. Do three reps. Switch hands; repeat.
3. Keep it up for one minute.
Make it easier: Drop knees to modify.
What it works: quads, butt, abs, and lower back
1. Stand with feet close together and inhale; raise arms perpendicular to floor, shoulders back.
2. Bend knees as you exhale, hinging forward at hips, abs engaged. Keeping gaze forward, “sit” back, lifting arms alongside ears (as shown).
3. With back straight and toes visible when you glance over your knees, sink more deeply to try to get upper thighs parallel to floor.
4. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, depending on strength, then return to start. Repeat three times.
Make it easier: Sink less deeply into the pose or stand with heels on a rolled-up mat or towel.
Make it harder: Sit even lower and hold pose for 30 seconds.
What it works: arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and abs
1. Squat and place hands on floor (as shown).
2. Jump feet into plank.
3. Drop chest to ground and perform a push-up.
4. Jump feet forward into squat position.
5. Jump up, reaching hands over head, and repeat sequence for 30 seconds. Rest. Do two more sets.
Make it easier: Step back instead of jumping and do push-up on knees.